Sandy Hook Tragedy Claimed to be a “Hoax”

We received the following unsolicited e-mail entitled “Gun Control is Treason” from freedomnetwork@global.net on Saturday the ninth of February 2013. To say it is in poor taste is a massive understatement, it does, however, provide an insight into a deluded mind and the lengths that the American right-wing nut jobs will go to, to justify the insane notion that gun ownership is a necessary right.

Overwhelming evidence has surfaced to prove that Sandy Hooks is a hoax. For example, the recently released CNN helicopter footage that is supposed to show children escaping from the school is obviously set somewhere else.

Unsolicited e-mail claiming that the Sandy Hook tragedy is a hoax.

The “grieving” parents are surprisingly joyful during their interviews. The footage from the early hours of the incident shows a traffic pattern that makes it impossible for emergency vehicles to operate. There are many other points with various degrees of credibility, but anyone doing serious research should find plenty to disprove the “official” story. In spite of this, many people still manage to believe the TV version of the Sandy Hoax drama.

The critics often say that it is crazy to believe that Sandy Hook is a hoax, but this is simply an irrational emotional response. Their main argument is that the media and the government would not make such a big lie and then lie so poorly. This is the exact working principle of the “Big Lie”, one of Hitler’s techniques. Many people know about this technique and then fall for it anyway. Another common claim is that it’s hard to fake that many deaths, but the “victims” could have been easily paid off to live with new identities. Regardless of the facts, sheeple believe what is shown on TV. They are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome – they’ve learnt to love Big Brother. Accurate information and logic do not matter to them. Without the means to defend themselves, they are just sheep being led to the slaughter.

The proposed gun control legislation does not improve public safety, but reduces the ability of the people to resist tyranny. High capacity magazines are not necessary to kill unarmed people or commit crime, but are very important for fighting armed minions of a tyrannical government, and deterrring a foreign enemy invasion. Making fighting weapons less available to people reduces their ability to defend themselves. People without the ability to defend themselves are at greater risk than people that can defend themselves.

While the threat of a crazy gunman exists, it pales in comparison to the threat of a murderous government. Murderous governments are not fiction, but historical fact and have emerged virtually everywhere where gun control has been put in place. Even today, millions of political prisoners are being tortured to death in communist countries. People point to the many Western nations that have gun control but no murderous governments as examples, but these governments know that if they were to start killing their own people, Americans would step in. America is the last bastion of freedom on the planet and that is why America is under sustained attack.

The biggest threat to America today comes from within. That threat is traitors in high positions. These traitors work covertly and watch their actions carefully lest they become exposed in a manner that removes the doubt of the public, most of whom cannot believe that such massive treason can take place in our society. They have chosen the ideal cover for their goals of subverting America – the guise of public servants. Using their positions of power, they have gradually eroded our freedoms and rights to further increase their own power. America is now on the brink of dictatorship, where this small group of traitors can have unlimited control of the nation.

The ignorance of the public makes tyranny possible. Many people still believe the Sandy Hoax made for TV drama/story. This amazing feat of ignorance can only be explained by a mental disorder. This type of mass psychosis is one of the conditions necessary for a brutal regime to come to power with popular support. This is the type of mass psychosis that has fueled the public support of murderous dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. This type of mass psychosis is now prevalent in America and the traitors know it. It is no surprise that they are now seeking to disarm the rest of us, so that we cannot resist their planned tyranny.

Gun control legislation is in direct violation of the Constitution that the legislators have sworn an oath to uphold. The Constitution recognizes and protects the right of the People to own firearms and to use them for self-defense. These are not privileges granted by the Constitution, they are God-given rights that are recognized and protected under the Constitution. They are rights that every legislator has sworn an oath to protect, regardless of religion. Legislation that violates the Constitution is an act of treason. Planning such legislation is planning to commit treason. Feindstein is one of the people planning this, but she is not alone. Feindstein herself has suspicious links to communist China. With leaders like this, it is not surprising that China’s economy bloomed while California’s withered. Her co-conspirators may have similar alternative allegiances. If they can disarm the people and rewrite the Constitution, there will be nothing to stop them from making policies to imprison people opposed to them, or to use their positions of power for profit at the expense of the nation. They are already filthy rich from having done that.

Some people say that the weapons available to the people are not sufficient to protect freedom from tyranny, because the state has much more powerful weapons. There is truth to this criticism and this is because the state has been gradually eroding self-defense rights of the people for some time now. Under the Constitution the people should be able to possess the same weapons as the government, without restrictions. That includes fully-automatic weapons. Needing a permit for concealed carry is already an infringement of the Second Amendment. At the same time, the state has been arming itself to the teeth, including armored vehicles and drones. These weapons are a threat to our freedom and our lives. That money should be used to build our communities, instead of holding us hostage. The legislation that infringes on our rights needs to be removed and our rights must be restored and vigilantly guarded

While we’re not sure if this e-mail is meant to be taken seriously or not, we have discovered that there is a Freedom Network who peddle this kind of insensitive conspiracy nonsense.

Just to make it clear, we here at the Rational Skeptics Society do NOT believe that the tragedy that befell those people at Sandy Hook was a government led conspiracy designed to introduce gun control. Furthermore, we not only support gun control, but go as far as to recommend that recreational gun ownership be outlawed. For far too long, law abiding citizens have been held to ransom at the hands of the gun industry, and its political arm the NRA. Americans who fear that their government might implement a policy which would require an armed response from its citizenship, would do well to recognise that they are no longer living under the reign of a foreign king, rather they elect their own leaders. The real threat they face, (and where their fear should be directed), is from the National Rifle Association, whose constant political interference has enabled American citizens, not to rise up against an imagined governmental threat, but to slaughter other citizens with guns that are readily available under the pretence that a person has some kind of “right” to own them. The sad truth is that organisations like the NRA, who have no mandate from the citizens they claim to represent, poke their nose into politics in order to protect their money-making industry.

Like 911, holocaust denial or the belief that global warming is only being espoused by scientists so that they can get grant money, there is a lie around the Sandy Hook incident, but it is not that it is a hoax, it is that there WAS a hoax. The “hoax” has been invented by right-wing nut jobs, who are trying to make out that people should be more afraid of the government they elected, than the crazy people who are allowed to bear arms under the out-dated, backward thinking, Second Amendment.

We would like to extend our sympathies to all those in Sandy Hook, and everywhere else, who have been touched by gun violence, and hope that the rest of us have the courage and fortitude to take responsibility for ensuring that we do everything we can to prevent these tragedies from happening again.

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Retire? In our moment of insolvency?

So … apparently some 60% of Americans have less than $25,000 in savings and investments according to a Bloomberg article. Approximately 14% are confident that they will be capable of retiring when the time comes at age 65. For most, the plan is to continue working beyond 65 in order to be able to retire at all.

Ok, first of all, some of this is not the fault of those individuals. When one is living literally cheque to cheque and bills gobble up all available cash on a constant basis, it is hardly their fault that they have very little savings. Of course, that greatly depends on the nature of the bills. Need money for food = fine. Need money for another $300 trip to the salon like you have 2 weeks ago = not so much. As sure as there are individuals that struggle to make ends meet, there are just as many (if not more) that choose to live like that. That choose to take on as much debt as they are possibly capable of and live all their “tomorrow” days in the here and now.

But there is another problem here, a little more obscure. Those that choose to live like this more so than the others that do not have a choice are necessarily ruining the job market for the young trying to come up themselves. Easy enough to just casually say “you’ll just work  little longer”. Each day an individual does not vacate their job when they’ve reached the age of retirement is another day that a new individual will not hold that job. I understand that the economics are bad now, but for a good portion, this is a fault of trying to live beyond ones means as opposed to living within them. People see “the good life” and want it, but they cannot afford it. But they can rent it out for a short period at the expense of their future comfort and that of the next generation.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that older workers are not valuable. They will toot their own horns on that – telling us all about their “experience” with a position or in working in general. I need not point out the insipidity of pointing out you have experience while denying anyone else the ability to gather that same experience. But beyond even this, we need to realize that experience is not everything. Younger bodies, faster minds, new ideas count as well. Those that dig deep and remain in a position can doom it to stagnation while they are there. Yes, they are experienced . Yes, they have been good workers. But isn’t there a time when they need to be laid aside, thanked for their work, and left behind by the business? As I stated, this helps them but hurts the new comers that need jobs to get on their feet. Might just be me, but it seems wrong to force a young person to wait until they are 30 or 35 to get a job most boomers had when they were 20.

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Windows 8: Cursed?

We all know of the Star Trek movies – that long running cinema franchise that grew from the television series from the late 60’s. Even if you are not a fan of the show or the movies, it’s hard to ignore the existence of the show and its multitude of spinoffs. If you are a fan of the movie franchise (even a casual one) you are aware of the dreaded “Trek movie curse”. The curse is relatively simple – every odd-numbered Starr Trek movie before the reboot has been a critical and box office flop while the even-numbered movies have been critically acclaimed.

The Motion Picture, the Search for Spock, Star Trek V, Generations, and Insurrection. They have all been plagued with poorly written story lines, illogical and baffling art direction, and bad acting / direction. The curse is something of a vision of hindsight – easy to see now that we can look back and compare the movies. That curse is somewhat unique to the franchise and, depending on who you ask, has been broken (or not) in the reboot of the series in 2009. Mind you, I don’t mean “curse” in the “woo woo” way. It is an observation as opposed to a belief in anything supernatural going on.

But the curse itself is not altogether unique. The Microsoft Windows operating system appears to share the same fate as these films, with versions of the venerable OS doing a hit and miss dance with consumers. This all depends on where you start counting and what members of the product line you choose to include. For our purposes here, we are talking about the consumer releases and leaving out the “network” versions of the software – WinNT, Win2K, Win2003, Win2008, and so forth. These are meant more as server software or at least for use in IT business environments instead as consumer system designed to surf the Internet and play games.

Of course, where do we start our count on the consumer side? Windows 1.0? 2.0? 3.x? Well, Windows 1.0 was not exactly a consumer product like we expect today. After all, it was produced when the personal computer market was still in diapers. The software was quite limited, but this was as much to do with the youth of the market as anything within the program itself. The same thing could be said of Windows 2.0 – released in 1988, it was still very early in the development of the consumer computer system. Not to say that there wasn’t a market at that time, but compare the sales figures in ’88 to ’98 and it looks quite sickly. Besides, these versions were not quite capable of operating the system alone. If you recall, the OS of the day at that time was DOS (Disk Operating System), a text based OS that provided users the ability to interact with computers without needing to sequentially load disks or type out long strings of commands. Windows was not an OS at this time, it was a shell layer laid atop of DOS that was meant to give you a different means of interacting with the system. It relied on DOS for a fair component of its operation. Even up to Windows 3.x, DOS was needed for the system to operate even if it was just in the background.

So we come to Win95, the first version of Windows designed to operate the system alone (though it still used the DOS kernel deep down) and it is here that the curse takes hold. Win95 was a good first attempt, but was plagued with memory leaks, crash bugs, and all sorts of other mischief. It was a failure. Replacing it in 1998 was Win98 which featured better memory management (it still leaked), better functionality, speed, and so forth. It was a success. How can we tell? We need only look to when the support for an OS was discontinued. Win95 was released on 24 August 1995 and support was halted on 30 November 2001 (just over 6 years). Win98 was released 25 June 1998 and support was halted 11 July 2006 (just over 8 years. It was scheduled to be dropped two years prior but popular demand forced Microsoft to delay cutting off support. Win95, on the other hand, disappeared with little more than a whimper.

The next great release of the OS was WinME or Windows Millennium Edition. Hard to say something kind about this one as it was one of the biggest pieces of OS garbage ever built. This was partially due to the last minute inclusion of the DOS kernel in the system due to demand from some users (read: hardcore nerds) that wanted the DOS kernel for “functionality”. What it did was destabilize the entire OS, rendering it a bugged out monster with enormous memory leaks, BSOD’s, and vulnerabilities. Sadly, the original Windows Kernel within the OS was pretty good and would serve as the basis for future versions, but this zombie OS was just plain awful. Released on 14 September 2000 and discontinued on the same day as Win98. Ouch!

Now we get to the star of the Windows line, Windows XP or Windows Experience (yeah, XP actually stood for something). What can one say about XP other than that it has been the most popular OS on the planet? Gone was the DOS kernel and in was the new Windows-only kernel. XP learned from ME and from 2K – it’s memory management was tighter (it knew to free memory once programs were close), its desktop slicker, and its capabilities were wider. It had a bit of a rocky start, but a couple service packs rapidly brought it up to snuff. Released on 25 October 2001 and service is expected to be discontinued on 08 April 2014 – that’s almost 13 years.

Windows Vista was next. An OS that build on XP and included numerous functionality upgrades, including better indexing and search functions, better memory management, and a new method of storing .DLL files that allowed multiple versions to be archived and used as needed by programs, eliminating a lot of conflicts and BSODs of old. But the program was big, heavy, and slow. Things just took longer to get done on it. Business and consumers were not about to give up the slick and smooth interface for a new clunky one, no matter how many new bobbles they put into it. It also came with a ridiculous number of versions, confusing consumers that were used to Windows XP. Period. Released 30 January 2007 with no end date for support as yet.

Now we come to the current golden kid – Windows 7. It is not that much different from Vista, except it sports better speeds and scalability. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s caught on as a result and has recently pushed XP out as top OS. To note, it was released on 22 October 2009.

Which brings us to Windows 8. Looking over the details above, it should be painfully obvious which way a prediction for this OS would lean. Despite the number, in the realm of actual operating systems, it has landed on the supposedly cursed number. Does this mean that it’s actually doomed?

That depends on a number of factors, some in the OS and some in the broader market. Success is a never a single, solid number. It shifts as the market changes and in terms of computer technology, the market is always changing. My opinion? I think it’s not going to “win”, as it were, at least not in the business / desktop market. Why? It’s actually pretty simple – just look at the release dates above.

Oh sure, there’s the issues with the new Metro system in Windows 8, the lack of Start Menu, the poor showing on the integrated Apps store, the closed ecosystem for the store similar to Apple, the idiocy for shutting down, and difficulties in switching between programs some have noted. All of that is true, but it still pales before the simple fact. It’s too soon. I’m dead serious. Don’t look at the dates involved – look at the market. Windows 7 was released only about 2.5 years ago. It is just now seeing deployment in business settings – my office has just begun rolling it out to our laptops. Programs are being updated to specifically work with the OS. In other words, Windows 7 is just now beginning to replace XP as THE OS. Windows 8 might be like sweet “mana” from heaven in computing terms, but it’s just too soon.

Let me put it this way. In 2000, I was using Win98 as my primary OS. By 2003, I was using Win2k. It took until 2006 for me to get into XP. I got on with Windows 7 in 2009 when it came out. Right now, I don’t see me needing a new OS until this one starts to show its age. That’s likely going to be at least another 2 or more years into its life cycle if not more. I don’t need a new OS – there is nothing that I can think of that I need to do with my computer that the Windows 7 OS does not already facilitate. For businesses, it is even worse. If they are just now moving to Windows 7 after ten years on XP, what is the likelihood they are going to chuck that for 8 anytime soon? Almost zero.  Like Vista, it will be automatically included on new systems and like Vista, it’ll be Windows 9 before I bother with it. The same goes for business users. They don’t need it yet. Oh, it will sell, but I do not expect it to replace Windows 7.

Let’s see if the Star Trek curse holds.

.

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Just ….. just don’t “do it” … ok?

Huh.

You know, the Internet is a big, crazy place. A place where you will see all manners of things on all kinds of subjects. Some are awesome, some are cute, some are soul crushing, and some are just plain stupid. This is one of those last ones.

The great state of Utah is primed to pass legislation that makes it against the law to teach (in public schools) anything other than abstinance as sex education. Hah! Bet you thought I was going to say “creationism”, didn’t you? Honestly, this is just as – if not more – retarded though. It will be illegal for teachers to inform the students about birth control methods – like the pill, condoms, sponges, and the like. They can only mention one method and one method alone – abstinence.

Now, we’ve all heard of abstinence, right? For those that have not, let me put it bluntly with a little situation. Robby and Julie are both in high school. Both of them are 16 (the legal age for sex in that area) and they are dating. They go to parties, movie, sit together, eat together and study together. Both are normal kids – healthy with no dysfunctions in their hormonal pools. They are frequently alone and when they are, they begin heavy petting. You know the drill, rubbing each other, kissing, feeling each other up, the usual. And I mean usual. Every young human couple since humanity has existed has done this. That much should be obvious – there are 7 billion of us now. We must be good at something.

Robby and Julie are completely normal. Their hormones are raging and they are feeling that urge to engage in sex. They pet, they rub, they feel. In school, they have been taught that when sexual feelings come over them, their best option is …. stop. Just that. Nothing more or less. Feeling the urge to have sex? All alone? Perfect timing? Meh, just stop! That will stop any risk of pregnancy.

Are they actually serious? The answer to sex is to …. not have any? Wha …? Have these people – Republicans if you need to know – ever been 16 and horny? Because they are forgetting something vital. When you’re16 and horny and she / he is horny and you are alone and all that … well, you are going to screw. Simple as that. Let me state it clearly – ABSTINENCE DOES NOT WORK!

That cannot be over-emphasized. It does not and cannot work. You can’t tell someone that they “shouldn’t” do that. It might work on one or two prudes, but 99.8% of them are going to have sex as soon as they are humanly able. Abstinence does not work. Every place that has a similar sex ed program has an enormous teenage pregnancy rate. Every single one. Places that teach condom use and about the pill do not have such pregnancy rates. I wonder why ….

This is a piece of religiously motivated stupidity. And a dangerous piece. Sure, the pregnancies are one thing, but you must remember that we have dozens of STD’s that roam around. If abstinence actually worked, then there would be no problem. But it doesn’t – kids still fuck and as a result of failing to learn about protection, they are going at it bareback. Meaning they are trading all those lovely viruses and such between them. How grant – anyone for Utah brand gonorrhea?

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Legislating reality

Ok …. 0_o

So the Republicans in Congress down in the states were defeated in a bill yesterday. No biggie – happens all the time to both parties down there, right? Someone tries to get a bill passed and it meets with defeat. This can be good and bad depending on the bill. SOPA was murdered? That’s good. Socialized healthcare was neutered? That’s bad. Some of them might be a matter of opinion as to the good and the bad, but the fact remains that some will be defeated and some will pass.

But this little one from yesterday is right up there among the most moronic bills they have tried to pass in recent years. I mean this from a straight-up “failure of reality” standpoint. One similar to the “Pizza is a Vegetable” stupidity. Now, I know that one was related to the tomato sauce on the pizza, but it was still knuckle-dragging stupid and even the people that defended it should be honest about that. But this one tops that by miles. Had it passed, it would have been one more notch toward proving that the Republicans are insane.

They had a bill put forward that was trying to declare that the Bush Tax Cuts had nothing to do with the deficit. Not one thing. Think about that for a moment. They wanted to state for the legal record that the trillion dollar cuts to the Federal Government’s income had nothing at all to do with the inability of Government to pay its expenses. Are you seeing what I’m getting at here – Government slashes its revenues, revenues it needs to pay for its many programs, Departments, employees, and so forth. It still needs to pay for these things after the cuts because it never cuts these programs at the same time to keep cash in the same as cash out. So it …. come on, say it with me here … borrows long term debt to pay for short term expenses. But that has nothing to do with the deficit and you’d be a fool and a communist to state otherwise. Takes one’s breathe away, doesn’t it?

How utterly and completely stupid. No, that’s putting down the stupid. How absolutely and utterly shit-brained. These people are literally shitheads. Can you imagine trying to legislate that into reality; basically, they are trying to legislate reality. It would be the same as legislating the sky as being Yellow, lava as cold, gravity as intelligent falling, or so on. This is asinine in its stupidity and ridiculous in the level of bald-faced lie that it represents. People – facts are not democratic. They cannot be voted on – they are or they are not. Tax cuts increase debt and deficit if there is no corresponding cut to service – that is a fact. As much a fact as electrons being attracted to positive charges. As much a fact as that the earth revolves around the sun. As much a fact as humans needing oxygen to breathe and live. These are facts. That bullshit that they tried to pull is fantasy – no, not just fantasy, but purposefully misleading bullshit designed to give themselves and their republican supporter assholes a supposed means of winning arguments about the tax cuts and the deficit. They are dead set on the deficit being anything but their fault and they are willing to lie to make it so.

How the hell do you people put up with them?

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Car Crash Fever

Found out about this little site from an article discussion on Fark that complies videos of car crashes. Nothing gory or explicit, just normal car crashes. People losing control of their vehicles, fender benders and that sort of thing. Link: http://carcrashes.altervista.org

Watching some of those videos, I can’t help but cringe. Again, not because there’s blood flying around or any excessive injuries displayed. The videos are mainly just two vehicles colliding with nothing of the aftermath being displayed, so it’s not “squick” that is making me cringe (not that it would). Instead, it’s the near universal aggressive or careless manner of the driving that causes me to flinch when watching. Which prompts this little post.

Not that everyone needs to hear this, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway. Here are a couple of things one should be able to bring away from these videos:

1. Motorcyclists of every type (scooters, Harleys, etc) – you are not above the law, beside it or otherwise around it. You have to obey the rules of the road just as any other vehicle has to. This means that you are not allowed to circle around a car that is legally stopped in the lane to continue along. As many of the riders in the videos discover, a stopped car is frequently stopped for a reason. Be it to let another car go by, a red light, a pedestrian or whatever, they are stopped for good reason. Going around them is not just illegal, it’s retarded. Red lights apply to you. Stop signs apply to you. Signal lights on other vehicles indicating intent apply to you.

2. Another for the cyclists – you vehicle is not a steamroller and it is certainly far from the biggest thing on the road. You need to be vigilant when driving more so than those in other vehicles, if for no other reason than that yours is so much smaller than the others. A slip in a car at 60 km results in minor injuries. A slip on a scooter at 40 km can result in major injuries or death. Pay heed to the vehicles and what they are up to – remember that, because you are on a motorcycle, you are basically invisible to other traffic.

When we drive, we watch for other vehicles by loading icons of sorts. Most people automatically load the car icon, the truck, the van, the transport truck, and so forth. But pedestrians and motorcycles are not loaded, mostly because they are not considered a threat. In some accidents with either, you will hear the driver say that they didn’t see the person – they are partially telling the truth. They didn’t notice them as they were not a threat. This is made worst when the biker does the things noted above – it’s a formula for injury.

3. Pedestrians are another one. You really should cross the road at designated crosswalks. you are not guaranteed safety from jackass drivers and other morons, but it sure helps. “But it’s all the way over there in the wrong direction.” Yeah, I understand what you mean. Easier for a vehicle to make up time than you. But if you must jaywalk, do keep the following tips in mine. Make sure the way is clear. I mean, that thing we tell children about looking both ways? It’s good sense – make sure to do that. Don’t dash out from between parked cars and large ones especially. Don’t try to “just make it before that car” – you are not a Olympic sprinter and even if you are, you cannot run at full speed immediately from a dead stop. That car is covering distance faster than you. Better a little later to your destination than injured or dead. And for the love of all that is sweet and delicious on this planet, wear something reflective! It really, really helps. If someone can see you, they are a lot less likely to hit you. Too many of those vids have pedestrians that are hit because they were wear black in the dark and crossing a busy road.

4. Don’t be aggressive jackasses on the road, drivers. Speeding, weaving between traffic, cutting others off – it all counts as aggressive driving. And it gets you nowhere. Even you destination. Do you realize that over the course of an entire trip to work, speeding and pushing may save you, at most, 5 minutes on the drive. And that’s a pretty optimistic estimate. Aggression makes you less apt to observe conditions as well as leave you will less time to react according to danger ahead. Many of the accidents there are due to simple speed – the individual is travelling too fast to react to a sudden problem on the road. You have to realize that a vehicle travelling at 60 km/h requires about 20 meters of hard braking to stop – that’s about 66 feet. The average vehicle is about 15 feet long which means you need more than 4 car lengths of space to stop. Add to that the time to see the problem, understand it is a problem, and react and you likely need at least triple that. If you’re speeding, that ain’t going to be available.

5. Snow means slow. Rain means slow. The road is not a “one speed fits all conditions” surface. If there’s rain on the road, you cannot hydroplane at 60 km or lower per hour – it is physically impossible. If there’s snow on the road, you are a lot less likely to lose control at 30 or 40 km than you are at 80. It’s common sense – when the conditions deteriorate, slow down.

6. Inattentive driving. When you are trying to merge into traffic, look for other traffic. They are in the thoroughfare and they have the right of way. They also have no reason to bow before you and let you out. They are going to drive on – don’t bet on their curtiousness or their own attention. When switching lanes, keep your eye on other vehicles – again, they have no obligation to let you in. The signal is a sign of intent to them so that they can get on guard for whatever bonehead idiocy you are about to pull, but it does not guarantee compliance.

The great tip to all driving is the oldest one – be defensive. Most people seem to have lost sight of what that means, so I will re-write it for the modern age. Drive you car, your motorcycle, your truck or even walk like everyone else is out to hit you. Seriously. If you drive like you believe everyone is trying to strike your vehicle at every chance, then you will be more defensive. That guy signaling to get in there? He’s coming whether you’re there or not. That guy hanging in the left hand turning lane? He’s turning when the light goes red for him and green for you. That guy riding your bumper? He’s going to be aboard of it if you so much as sneeze. Drive like everyone else is a maniacal idiot and give them the respectful distance that such lunatics deserve. You’ll have a whole lot less dings in your car.

 

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Retirement idiocy

Do you want to retire someday?

Most people will answer yes to that question. Hell, who wouldn’t? Unless you have one of the most amazing jobs in the world (booby inspector, chocolate taster, etc), you will get to the point where you will no longer want to work anymore. This is inevitable – as we age, we slow down and work generally becomes more difficult. Few wish to work until the day they die … though, as I state this, I realize that this is one of those “first world problem” things. True, in third world nations, the general tendency is to work until death, so this is a bit of an elitist mentality, but bear with me here.

Anyway, retirement. We all want to do it with few exceptions. Now, the problem of late with that idea has been with the composition of the population. There are more old people than there are young and that is causing a heavy drain on retirement resources. In Canada, this means a drain on the OAS and GIS. The OAS is the Old Age Security payment provided by the government to all individuals in the country over the age of 65. The GIS is the Guaranteed Income Supplement that provides an extra boost to income for those individuals on OAS that do not get enough money to make ends meet. Canada also has the CPP – the Canadian Pension Plan, but that is a contributions plan, requiring you to work and have paid in to get money out.

Anyway, recently, the Conservative Party (whom currently makes up the Government) has let it be known that there will need to be some changes to the OAS and GIS so that these payment programs can remain viable. One such plan is to increase the age that one gets these payments to 67 from 65. That one, I don’t have a big problem with as such. People are living longer and so forth so it does make some sense to do that. However, their other plan is to create a new type of retirement savings plan that people can contribute to, similar to the RSP that many large employers operate. Only with two key differences. The first is that these will be established by employers through third party organizations, as opposed to being employer run. The second is that there are no employer contributions to these plans. These are for the employee to fund and them alone. Funds will be placed into the hands of financial institutions that will invest the money in the market. All risks will be borne by the employee. If the market tanks and the fund manager had it in a retarded location, too bad. You’re retirement is gone.

What’s my problem with this plan? Let me see. The reliance on the market to accrue the value into the fund for the individual to retire. One shift of the market and you have nothing. Oh, what’s that? The markets are always going up? You’re … you’re right! How naive of me? How could I forget that it has increased over these years?! I have to go take a look at this bastion of gain right now …. Wait a minute. Why is this company trading for $100 a share that month and $5 the next? Why … if I didn’t know better, I’d say that the increase in the market is the average performance of all stocks over the indices over time. That average hides dizzying highs (that you cannot get a piece of) and terrible lows (that you somehow get caught holding the bag for). Strange that – the market is completely unstable. You’re better off betting it all on black at Vegas. At least they’re upfront about being there to rip you off.

So my first concern is that the market does not a retirement guarantee. What of bonds or financial instruments? Funny, we already have that in the RRSP, the Registered Retirement Savings Program. A program that allows you to invest money tax free when you are younger and paying higher tax and take it out when you are old and paying lower tax. That does the job well enough, though it must be taken back into income over time or you risk getting it dumped in and paying out the ass for it.

But my second concern is for that guy over there, the individual that makes a fairly low wage. You know, the one living cheque to cheque. The one without savings of any kind. The one that cannot afford to invest in any sort of retirement. The individual that relied on the Government program existing to, you know, survive when they retire. This program is not going to help them – quite the opposite. When the time comes, they will be the people either homeless or sitting at the mall all day to stay warm because they can’t afford to heat their place. You can make all the savings plans and investment plans and such that you like. If the money is not there to put into them, then when retirement comes, they’re shit out of luck.

The only humor to all that is that the old are the largest of all voting blocks. How long do you think putting them out to pasture with nothing will actually work, hmmm?

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The media bias!

What media?

The Liberal Media! One of those terms that you hear that you just get used to, even parrot yourself on occasion. “Liberal media”. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Didn’t used to, but that was before a concerted effort was made to make the term become firmly associated with the news media. It’s an indictment of the media – an attempt to accuse it of having a particular bias. A bias toward left leaning thought, of handling those on the left with kid gloves and ruthlessly attacking the right, and showing contempt for all things conservative.

Old Newt is the most recent politician to spout this canard to the public. His assertion recently has been that the liberal media hates him and is actively trying to destroy his campaign. He also implied that Obama would not have gotten in were it not for the media. The article where this stuff can be seen is located here: http://townhall.com/columnists/larryelder/2012/01/26/creators_oped/page/full/

To be blunt, this is bullshit. Let’s break down the reasons why:

The first (in this case) is that Obama’s opponent was not exactly a contender in that election. One cannot blame the media for a lame candidate and an even more ridiculous vice president pick. To be fair, Biden is not exactly a five star candidate either, but he wisely kept his mouth shut for most of the campaign.

The media does have a bias, but it tends more toward common sense. Claiming that it is “liberal” seems to basically make the claim that common sense is “liberal”. That is not the case – liberals no more have a locked grip on common sense than conservatives. Some conservatives treat any criticism of them as an attack by the media due to bias, but it is this common sense that is the root of the attack. Stating that Santorum is a homophobic bigot is not liberal bias – it’s merely repeating what he said and drawing the obvious conclusion from it. A man cannot say that homosexuals should be kept from the military or marriage to ensure our moral purity without being called a homophobe. Not because of liberal bias – but because he is a homophobe. Simple as that.

The other reason is that the effect of this supposed bias is that they cannot engage in hate speech, anti-islamic rhetoric, or other forms of bile without someone, somewhere pointing out that it is what it is – bigotry and hate and so forth. If your financial grasp is akin to that of an ignorant and petulant child – constantly spouting poorly thought out and mindless crap like “we need lower taxes to stimulate more jobs” even if all the other drops in taxes did not such thing and the media calls you on it? Tough shit, asshole. Your ideas do not conform to reality. That is not bias – it’s reality.

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Out of the SOPA …

… and into the ACTA.

We’ve all heard of SOPA and its retarded relative that were passing through the US House of Representatives. We all heard how it was going to destroy the Internet as we knew it, render it into a barren wasteland of controlled acts run by mega-conglomerates. And we all know how the Internet rallied and put it on indefinite hold or even killed the damn thing. Go Internet!

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but the old saying is true: the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Much as TED Talks has indicated in a rather popular piece about SOPA that a speaker at TED did recently. Here is a link to this talk – let me note that it came out just a week or two ago (Early January 2012) which was pretty good timing as it turned out. http://www.ted.com/talks/defend_our_freedom_to_share_or_why_sopa_is_a_bad_idea.html

The price of this victory over those that seek to force the Internet to conform and obey is simple – we will have to be vigilant against similar acts against us in the future. And in the present. For while SOPA was finally able to draw some mainstream media attention and get the backs of the collective Internet up, another agreement has been silently slipping by us all, undetected. This one, however, is much more insidious. For this is not an act of the US House or the Canadian Parliament, or any of the countries involved. Rather, this is a new trade agreement that has been on the go for some time. A trade agreement called ACTA, which is meant to outline and empower governments internationally to be capable of using SOPA-like powers and more. This is an agreement that has been arranged in secret – though we know that they have been doing it due to leaks and such, we did not get an idea of its full contents until recently. And those contents are terrifying. Closure of websites, removal from DNS, tracking and suing individuals that violate copyright … hell, even stopping you from buying generic brand drugs instead of the expensive brand name ones. This one has it all. And not a word has been breathed about it. Not one word in the Media. Yet this is an act that plans on destroying the Internet as surely as SOPA would have wished to have done.

We need to do what we did to SOPA to ACTA. Contact your representative; get involved in boycotts of service, the works. This agreement covers the EU, Canada, the US, Mexico, and Japan. We all need to get on board to killing this bastard too.

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War on common sense

Recently, the Liberal Party of Canada announced that it was making a platform change on its stance toward illegal drugs. They announced that it was now the position of the Party that Marijuana would be legalized if they are voted into power in the next election cycle. They have reasons – trying to attract the stoner vote is one – but in any case that is their position.

It’s a position that I happen to agree fully with. Let me preface this with a declaration: I don’t do drugs of any kind or type. The closest I come these days is alcohol and I have a single ounce of that a night mixed into soda. The alcohol content of the types I drink is such that it can be considered negligible. I don’t smoke tobacco or imbibe caffeine, nor do I take any controlled substance. Marijuana, meth, heroin, cocaine, crack, E, pain killers, and so forth – I don’t touch them. I don’t need them and I do not prefer the idea of altering my perceptions as it tends to allow individuals people to fool my senses. That lack of control over my body is not desirable to me.

That said, I have nothing against anyone taking any of these substances, even to their own personal detriment, as long as it does not affect others negatively. That even goes for alcohol – be a drunk if you must, just don’t kill or hurt anyone in the process. Crack? Sure, if you think you don’t mind the negative effects of imbibing the substance, go right on ahead. Especially Marijuana though – it is as harmless a drug as nicotine or even more so. I have yet to find any solid evidence that it causes lung cancer like tobacco. Take anything you want, just keep it to yourself.

Part of the reason for this stance is that I am a political, economic and social pragmatist. I am fairly centered in my views. From that position, the issue of drug use is one that edges on the Liberal – Libertarian side of my thought process. Legalize and regulate within reason. People should be free to do what they wish to their bodies. The Government should be there to regulate the industry in regards to standards for the production and sale of the products.

The reason I bring this up is an article from the UK. Apparently, the Government there is re-opening the decisions on the legality of drugs there after a 10 year gap. An article on the matter provides the opinion that these substances should be legal as it would decrease crime and increase revenue. See the article here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2012/01/24/drugs-laws-is-legalisation-an-acceptable-alternative-115875-23714663/

As I stated, I agree with this stance. The revenues would be a welcome addition to Government coffers, there would be less need for prisons and the components that go with that, the number of violent crimes would decrease, the amount of police to handle more serious crimes would increase, and criminal organizations that depend on the trafficking would find themselves without steady income.

Yes, that includes all manners of drugs. The current prohibitions have done nothing to curb use. Use has actually increased along with population so the “war” has been meaningless. Some argue that legalization would open the door for children to start taking them in mass amounts. That does not really make any sense – regular restrictions would govern the sale to minors and the regulation would have a chilling effect on the “cool” factor of use. You aren’t sticking it to the man when you do them – you are actually paying him for the privilege. The negatives of a few children using are more than negated by the benefits of eliminating the criminal organizations that use it as their funding model. Besides, kids can get them now about as easily. There are always going to be individuals who will do these things – legal or illegal will not matter. It is on their parent to indicate the difference of taking the drug or not.

The upshot is that something different needs to be done. The war on drugs has been waged for decades and it hasn’t made a single inch in progress. Billions are wasted on it and individuals are criminalized for puffing on the dried leaves of a plant. This would be fine if it worked, but it doesn’t work. It has never worked. It is a money pit, nothing more. Only lunatics keep trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Cut it off and try something new.

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